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The different types of Greek meals are appetizer dishes called mezes, entree options made from vegetables, poultry, seafood, or certain game meats, and desserts made from various traditional ingredients. Various vegetable soups are also common at Greek meals, as are cheeses and wine as part of homemade Greek appetizers. Greek cooking with vegetarian recipes is frequently done during certain times of the year when meat is eliminated for periods of religious observance. Favorite ingredients for all dishes of Greek meals include olive oil, honey, feta cheese, wheat products, yogurt, and eggplant.
Greek food served as mezes frequently includes dishes such as grape leaves or zucchini flowers stuffed with meat, rice, or cheese. The traditional Greek salad is also a favorite; it is usually made with cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions tossed with feta cheese and drizzled with olive oil. Another appetizer vegetable dish called horta consists of various lightly steamed green vegetables flavored with a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil. Most appetizers at Greek meals are served with spirits such as ouzo that are trademarks of this particular culture.
Entrees served in Greek cooking sometimes include game animals such as rabbit, while lamb, chicken, and pork are also popular choices. Recipes for these types of Greek home-cooked meals often draw inspiration from various Mediterranean traditions, many of which can be traced back to the Ottoman and Byzantine empires. Some types of entree dishes are also unique to specific areas of Greece and are made with a variety of local seasonings such as basil, oregano, thyme, and mint. Vegetable entree dishes that are commonly found throughout Greece include stuffed cabbage rolls called lachanodolmades and a stew called spanakorizo that is flavored with the Greek staples of lemon juice and olive oil.
Quick Greek meals offer a unique cultural take on foods that are convenient yet still preserve this culinary tradition. Pastry dough stuffed with meats or vegetables is a favorite option for fast food that is often available from street vendors throughout Greek towns and cities. Variations on these recipes include kotopita and chortopita that are made with diced chicken and shredded salad greens respectively.
Greek desserts include a wide range of baked goods that draw influence from other traditions such as those of Italy. A Greek pastitsio is actually a pasta dish that resembles lasagna but is made with dessert ingredients such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and egg-based custard. Cookie recipes are popular dessert items at Greek special occasions, and many of these are made with olive oil and honey before being garnished with crushed almonds.
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